Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
It’s the simplest way anyone can learn in a flash the basic moral principles that must apply in the voting booth.
It’s the new, free, non-partisan "Catholic Voting Guide" app.
On Oct. 9, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy launched its easy-to-use-and-understand app.
“The app gives very clear, concise explanations of the moral principles to be applied when choosing an elected leader,” said Father John Trigilio Jr., president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (CCC).
The app may be downloaded directly from the CCC website. It is available for iPhone, iPod, iPad, as well as Android and Windows smartphones. It may be downloaded from the Google Play store, and the Windows version is available in the Windows phone store as well. The iOS version is available in the iTunes.
The principles apply to any voter, Catholic or not.
“We zeroed in on six key issues,” he said. “These principles are timeless. They’re consistently taught by the Church and based on sacred Scripture and natural law.”
The six issues are: right to life, religious liberty (and freedom of religion), sanctity of marriage, private property, access to necessary goods and war.
“We not only accentuate the moral principles on making a right decision, but we also point out how we have to prioritize,” Father Trigilio said.
The app applies these six issues in order of preference.
Father Trigilio emphasized the non-negotiables: “The right to life is first and foremost. It must always take pre-eminence. It’s the foundational issue of all the other rights. That’s what Cardinal Ratzinger said and the bishops say.”
To prepare the app, the confraternity used the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" document as well as the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion," which was written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
Next, after the right to life, is religious liberty, because the United States was founded on religious liberty, the priest said.
“Then, precisely because we have freedom of religion and religious liberty, we have the right to protect the sanctity of marriage, which is No. 3,” said Father Trigilio. “They’re all organically connected. Because of religious liberty we have the right and the obligation to protect traditional marriage because it’s the very bedrock of society, the cornerstone of church and state. And the family is built on the cornerstone of marriage. The Pope has mentioned not even the pope has the authority to redefine marriage. Nor does the government. We can’t redefine it.”
The app offers an explanation of what formal and material cooperation in evil is as well. “We have a lot of Catholics who don’t know that (distinction),” Father Trigilio said.
Another pre-election witness for the faithful comes from Nelson Fine Art and Gifts, a family-owned art and merchandise manufacturer in Steubenville, Ohio.
The company offers t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, buttons, yard signs, posters, license plates and other articles with such slogans as “I vote my values” and “Some things are not negotiable.”
Owner Mark Nelson has a particular goal: He wants Americans to voice their values.
“Basically, this being an election year, it’s very important to us to make every difference we can,” he said.
That means standing for the values that are most important: life, marriage and freedom.
“These three non-negotiables are very dear to our hearts as Catholics, as well as citizens in America,” Nelson explained.
Like Father Trigilio, Nelson emphasized: “First and foremost is life. It’s the basis of everything. And marriage and family are basic tenets of society. And then there’s religious freedom, that we may not be coerced and forced into paying for abortions and more.”
Nelson is no newcomer to the culture wars. For the last 25 years, he and his wife have been involved in the defense of life.
They are happy to use their company in the effort.
“Basically,” Nelson said, “we see it as a way of defending life using the resources God has given us and the talents we have here within our company.”
He hopes that not only Catholics, but other Christians and other Americans, will make use of the items, which don’t endorse any candidate or party, but, rather, the idea of voting moral values.
Concluded Nelson: “It’s important for everybody to join in this battle of defending the very tenets of our faith; it’s our duty as citizens.”